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China 2018 thermal power investment lowest since 2004: association

[SHANGHAI] China's total investment in thermal power construction last year fell to its lowest level since 2004, according to data from an official industry group, as the country tried to restrict investment in polluting projects.

The China Electricity Council (CEC), which represents power generators, plant builders and equipment manufacturers, said investment in new thermal power plants reached 78.6 billion yuan (S$15.55 billion) in 2018, down 8.3 per cent on the year and amounting to 28 per cent of total spending in the sector.

Of the total, coal-fired capacity investment stood at 6.44 billion yuan, down 8.8 per cent on the year, CEC said in a report published late on Friday.

Total power investment fell 3.9 per cent on the year to 278.7 billion yuan. Spending on hydropower construction rose 12.7 per cent to 70 billion yuan, while nuclear investment inched down 1.6 per cent to 44.7 billion yuan.

However, policies aimed at curbing overcapacity and tackling a subsidy payment shortfall meant that solar power investment plummeted 27.4 per cent to 20.7 billion yuan in 2018, while wind power also dropped 5.2 per cent to 64.6 billion yuan.

China has vowed to reduce its dependence on polluting fossil fuels, and it aims to bring the share of coal in its overall energy mix to 58 percent by next year, down from 68.5 per cent in 2012.

China will aim to bring that share down to 50-53 per cent by 2025, the official China Daily reported last month, citing experts involved in drawing up the country's next five-year plan.

However, a recent study claimed China had resumed construction on more than 50 gigawatts (GW) of suspended coal-fired power projects last year, and warned China could still build an additional 290 GW of capacity.